Chelmsford Magistrates Court has fined an Essex based property developer £50,000 with costs of £1413 after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) successfully prosecuted the company after an investigation revealed they had failed to perform a Refurbishment and Demolition Asbestos Survey. In not to do so, the firm failed to alert their employees to potentially dangerous exposure during a refurbishment of a block of flats.
Additionally, the HSE told the court that one of the employees had not been trained in the detection of asbestos material.
The court heard that on previous occasions the developer had received instructions from the HSE regarding asbestos surveys and an improvement notice concerning the lack of staff training.
After the case was heard, HSE Inspector David King said: “Exposure to asbestos fibres is a serious and well known health risk, so it is essential that duty-holders take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.
“Guidance on managing the risks of asbestos is widely and freely available. Asbestos has been subject to regulations since 1931 and relevant to the construction industry since 1969.
“Therefore failing to take action to identify the location and type of asbestos present during planning of the work, not communicating that information to workers/contractors who may disturb the asbestos and then not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of those exposed is absolutely inexcusable.”
Around 4,500 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs and digestive tract, and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.
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